California Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

California Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Introduction to Civil Procedure

Civil Procedure involves the set of rules and processes by which civil cases are processed through the court system. In California, as in other U.S. states, civil procedure is governed by state statutes, rules of court, and case law. It is important to understand both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) as both sets of rules can apply depending on the court’s jurisdiction.


Subject Matter Jurisdiction

This refers to the court’s authority to hear the type of case before it.

  • Federal Question Jurisdiction: Cases arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the U.S.
  • Diversity Jurisdiction: Cases between citizens of different states or a foreign country with an amount in controversy exceeding $75,000.

Personal Jurisdiction

The court’s power to bring a person into its adjudicative process; jurisdiction over a defendant’s personal rights.

  • In Personam Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction over the defendant’s person.
  • In Rem Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction over property within the court’s territory.

Pennoyer v. Neff: Established the principle that a court can assert jurisdiction over a person only if they are physically present within the state at the time of service, own property in the state, or have given consent.

International Shoe Co. v. Washington: Established the “minimum contacts” standard for determining personal jurisdiction.


Venue refers to the proper or most convenient location for trial.

  • Venue is generally proper where the defendant resides or where the claim arose.


Pleadings are the formal statements of the parties’ claims and defenses.

  • Complaint: The initial pleading by which a lawsuit is begun.
  • Answer: The defendant’s response to the complaint.
  • Demurrer: A pleading in California that tests the legal sufficiency of the claims.
  • Motions to Strike: Requests to remove parts of a pleading.
  • Amended and Supplemental Pleadings: Pleadings that may be altered to correct deficiencies or to reflect new information.

Pretrial Procedures


The process by which parties obtain information from one another before the trial.

  • Depositions, Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, and Production of Documents.


Requests for the court to make a decision on specific issues before trial.

  • Motion to Dismiss: Asks the court to dismiss the case for reasons such as lack of jurisdiction or failure to state a claim.
  • Summary Judgment: Asks the court to rule that the other party has no case because there are no facts at issue.

Trial Procedures

Jury Selection

The process of selecting a jury from the pool of potential jurors.

  • Voir Dire: The process of questioning prospective jurors to assess their suitability.

Conduct of Trial

The actual proceeding where evidence is presented and legal arguments are made.

  • Direct Examination, Cross-Examination, Opening Statements, Closing Arguments.

Post-Trial Procedures


The official decision of the court regarding the outcome of the case.


The process of seeking a higher court’s review of a lower court’s decision.

  • Notice of Appeal: Must be filed within a specific time frame to preserve the right to appeal.

Enforcement of Judgments

The procedures for ensuring a court’s judgment is followed.

  • Writ of Execution: A court order to enforce a judgment through seizure or sale of the debtor’s property.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Methods of resolving disputes outside of the court system, such as mediation and arbitration.

California-Specific Procedures

  • California has unique procedural rules set forth in the CCP that may differ from the FRCP.
  • The California One Day-One Trial system for jury duty.
  • California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which allows defendants to strike a complaint involving their free speech rights on public issues.

Case Law Examples in IRAC Format

International Shoe Co. v. Washington (IRAC)

Issue: Whether a state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident corporation based on acts related to the state.

Rule: Minimum contacts with the state such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

Analysis: International Shoe had sufficient contacts with the state of Washington as it had salesmen who resided and worked there, thus it enjoyed the benefits and protection of the laws of the state.

Conclusion: The Supreme Court held that Washington had personal jurisdiction over International Shoe.

Pennoyer v. Neff (IRAC)

Issue: Whether personal jurisdiction obtained through service by publication on a non-resident who had no property in the state at the time of service is valid.

Rule: A state can assert jurisdiction over a person only if they are physically present within the state at the time of service, own property in the state, or have given consent.

Analysis: Neff was not in Oregon at the time of the service by publication and did not own property there when the suit commenced.

Conclusion: The court lacked personal jurisdiction over Neff, and therefore the judgment was void.

By understanding and studying these foundational concepts, cases, and specific statutes, a 1L law student will be well-prepared for the final examination in California Civil Procedure. It is crucial to review both California-specific laws and general federal civil procedure principles to excel in the class.

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